Can I get a divorce if my spouse is in prison?

The fact that your spouse is in prison has no bearing on the validity of the divorce provided that all the necessary requirements are met.  In some circumstances it can be used as proof that the marriage has irrevocably broken down e.g if the reason your spouse has been incarcerated was for crimes against you or your family (unreasonable behaviour) or if your spouse has been incarcerated for more than two years to date.  The main hurdle to get over is service of the divorce petition.

The courts require in most cases that the petition is served via first class post to your spouse’s last known permanent address, whereby they must then return an acknowledgement of service. As your spouse is in prison, it follows that they have no permanent address.  The courts do allow personal service, to effect personal service you will need to instruct a process server.

They will arrange a time and date to meet your spouse by liaising with the prison. At that meeting, the process server will serve the application and explain the effect of it to your spouse. The process server will then inform the court that service is complete.

In the event your spouse refuses to meet the process server, you may apply to the court to serve by an alternative method, a method which is at the discretion of the court. In the event that the court deems service to be impractical by any method it can dispense with service.

George Green Family Law specialists have extensive experience in dealing with all aspects of relationship breakdown.

If you would like any further information please contact Mark Vandaele at our Wolverhampton office on 01902 796 930 or Rachel Baker at our Cradley Heath office on 01384 340 580.